U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan Give You 5 Good Reasons to Support Solar Power

Ethical Markets Green Prosperity

U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan Give You 5 Good Reasons to Support Solar Power

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 08:05 AM PST

U.S. Soldiers have been using solar power in the Afghanistan war for a couple of years now, with everything from solar backpack kits to large stationary arrays. One project especially worth noting is a group of ten 28-kilowatt hybrid solar/diesel generators that have been deployed for Special Forces Soldiers in remote outposts. When you tote up the benefits, it?s clear that solar power is a winner, at least in war zones.


1. Solar Power Saves Money

Richard G. Kidd IV, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability, recently described the project in detail for David Vergun of the Army News Service.

One key benefit, of course, is cutting down on the cost of fuel. According to Kidd, the overall daily fuel use per soldier averaged one gallon during WWII and now it has zoomed up to 20 gallons. A good chunk of that amount goes to electricity needed for powering today?s geared-up operations.

The hybrid solar/diesel units, provided by the company SunDial Capital Partners, cut that in half, to roughly 10 gallons.

Given the high cost of shipping fuel to remote outposts in Afghanistan ($400 per gallon, according to the Pentagon), it?s no surprise that the units paid for themselves in less than three months.

2. Solar Power Saves Planes and Trucks

Another consideration is the transportation resources required for conventional fuel distribution, compared to solar power and other renewable sources that can be scavenged on site.

By cutting down on fuel deliveries, the hybrid solar units free up aircraft and trucks for other missions. According to Kidd, the project has resulted in the equivalent of pulling 185 trucks out of fuel convoys.

In turn, that reduces the risk for Soldiers assigned to secure air drops and fuel convoys.

For a graphic look at the true cost of conventional fuel delivery in a war zone, check out the forthcoming documentary The Burden.

3. Solar Power Saves Wear and Tear

The lifespan and repair logistics of conventional diesel generators also compare poorly to the solar/hybrid units.

According to Kidd, the typical generator used by the Army often runs at only 20 to 30 percent capacity. That can enable unburned fuel to escape, which wastes fuel and damages the engine.

In contrast, the solar panels are linked in a smart microgrid. They can be taken offline and put back up as needed in order to keep the generators running at maximum efficiency.

The result is an improved lifespan for the equipment and less down time. It also frees up overburdened mechanics to work on other tasks.

4. Solar Power is Just Plain Better

SunDial’s system includes battery storage, and Kidd notes that stored energy is better suited to powering the high-performance electronic gear used by modern armies. That includes sensors, cameras, and communications equipment.

According to Kidd, operational readiness has “gone up dramatically wherever solar has been deployed.”

5. Solar Power Builds Strong Communities

Here in the U.S., the Army’s Net Zero initiative envisions alternative energy, water and waste management projects at Army bases that also provide benefits to their host communities.

That’s already coming into play in Afghanistan. Each solar hybrid unit is designed to provide energy for 30 soldiers, but Kidd notes that the units pump out enough for local villages, too.

The units are also fully mobile and transportable, which leaves the door open to relocating them to nearby villages when U.S. troops finally withdraw from Afghanistan.

Image: Courtesy of Army News Service

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey



Siemens To Set Up 238 MW Of Solar, Wind Energy Capacity In South Africa

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 07:39 AM PST

Multinational technology conglomerate, Siemens Energy has signed an agreement to supply equipment and engineering, procurement, construction services for several renewable energy projects in South Africa.

The projects are being undertaken by lead developer Mainstream Renewable Power along with other partners like Globeleq, black economic empowerment investment company Thebe Investment Corporation, local engineering firms such as Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering, local community trust members, and Mainstream?s local partner renewable energy developer Genesis Eco-Energy.

Siemens will develop two solar power plants with a capacity of 50 MW each in De Aar and Droogfontein in the Northern Cape. The projects are expected to provide electricity to 130,000 houses and are scheduled to be commissioned in 2014.

Mainstream Renewable has already signed the power purchase agreement, project implementation and key financing contract with the government and South African power utility Eskom, and plans an investment of more than ?500 million.

In addition to these two projects, Siemens will supply about 60 wind turbines, each having a capacity of 2.3 MW and a rotor diameter of 101 meters, for the 138MW Jeffreys Bay wind farm in the Eastern Cape. Operation and maintenance of the turbines will also be provided by Siemens for 10 years.

Siemens Energy said that the first round of the procurement for 25-30% of the components will be sourced from local contractors, and vendors and imported components like photovoltaic modules and inverters will be sourced from outside.

Ute Menikheim, Siemens Energy CEO for Africa, said: “South Africa has outstanding conditions for the utilisation of solar and wind energy and has set up a remarkable renewable energy programme. Renewable energy will help to increase access to electricity, create much-needed jobs and support the economic growth on the continent while lowering our carbon emissions.”

Over the last few months, the renewable energy sector in South Africa has seen exceedingly high activity, with the government and several private sectors announcing new wind and solar power projects.

The South African Energy Department is seeking bids for 3,725 MW of renewable energy projects through its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. International leaders in renewable energy, like Abengoa and several others, have signed agreements to provide services for implementation of large-scale renewable energy projects. Standard Chartered Bank has committed over $1 billion, while the US Export-Import Bank will lend $2 billion for renewable energy projects.

Image: Siemens Press Picture

The views presented in the above article are the author’s personal views only


Russian Wind Powering Europe? IFC Explores The Possibility

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 07:27 AM PST

There’s reportedly a plan to construct large wind farms in an arctic region in northwestern Russia. The plan was inspired by the Desertec initiative. The plan, which is called RUSTEC, involves building dozens of wind farms, which would then export the wind energy to Europe through Norway and Finland.

This may help European countries to meet their renewable energy goals. They need the cheapest renewable energy they can get, and RUSTEC might be able to provide that.

The project was called the ?brainchild? of the International Finance Organization (IFC).

Due to the fact that the region in the plan is unusually windy, it is expected to generate electricity more cheaply than offshore European plants (offshore wind power is still considerably more expensive than onshore wind). As wind speeds increase, the ratio of electricity generated to the cost of wind turbines increases, decreasing the cost of wind power.

The cost of wind power is calculated using that ratio, but O&M (operation and maintenance) costs for wind are also factored in, and affect the cost, although very marginally compared to wind speed.

“I was inspired by DESERTEC – the plan to build solar stations in the Sahara desert in northwest Africa and transmit electricity to Southern Europe. I thought, why solar power from Africa, why not wind power in Russia?” said Patrick Willems, the project manager of the IFC’s program to develop renewable energy in Russia.

Offshore wind farms normally generate more electricity than onshore ones in general because it is usually windier offshore, but, particularly windy locations inland could exceed that.

Also, offshore wind farms normally generate more expensive electricity than land ones, as noted above, despite their superior performance, partly due to the relatively high maintenance cost of offshore wind farms.

Russian wind farms are uncommon, and there are multiple reasons for that. That is not necessarily because Russia is a major oil and gas producer – Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest oil producers in the world is so ambitiously pursuing renewable energy.

This may kick-start the Russian wind industry.

Source: The Moscow Times



Saudi Arabia Investing $109 Billion Into Solar Energy, Wants 1/3 Of Electricity From Solar By 2032

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 06:40 AM PST

This article has been reposted from Solar Love with full permission.

Saudi Arabia is planning to invest $109 billion into solar energy, looking to develop a solar industry that can provide 1/3 of its electricity by 2032.

Doing so will free up larger quantities of its reserves for international sales rather than for use domestically. With the price of oil expected to rise significantly in the coming decades, such a move makes sense from an economic standpoint.

Saudi Arabia’s first solar farm is expected to begin operations by 2015, and its first nuclear plant by 2020, according to an official at the agency developing the country’s renewable (and atomic) energy program.

Its first solar power plant is expected to begin construction in early 2013, and will take up to 2 years to complete.

Khalid Al-Suliman, vice president at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said that “the project will get underway once the government approves his agency’s plan for renewable energy.” He’s expecting to officially receive approval by early 2013.

He says that they are currently targeting around “41,000 megawatts of solar capacity within two decades,” 16,000 megawatt of which would be from photovoltaic panels, and the other 25,000 from solar thermal technology. The country currently has only around 3 megawatts of solar installations.

It is also still moving forward with its plan to build sixteen nuclear reactors by the year 2030, for a total nuclear capacity of 14,000 megawatts, which is projected to cost the country around $100 billion.

With how competetively priced the solar power is compared to nuclear, it kind of makes you wonder if they have any ulterior interests in nuclear.

Source: Bloomberg
Image Credits: Solar Power via Wikimedia Commons



Largest Solar Power Plant In World Nears Completion In Abu Dhabi

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 06:10 AM PST

The largest single-unit solar power plant in the world is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and officially open in the first quarter of 2013, solar power giant Masdar has announced. Shams 1 will have a generation capacity of over 100 MW of power, and was built with the stated purpose of providing 20,000 homes in the region with electricity. The project will be followed shortly thereafter by Shams 2 & 3, which are planned to generate similar levels of electricity.


Yousuf Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company, said: “Shams 1 is the largest concentrated solar power project in the world. Developing a project of this scale is a significant achievement for Abu Dhabi, Masdar and its partners, Total and Abengoa.”

There are larger “solar power plants” or “solar power projects,” but they include multiple solar plants of less than 100 MW. (For example, the Solnova Solar Power Station in Spain has five CSP plants of 50 MW each that make the overall project 250 MW in size, and the Gujarat Solar Park in India includes multiple solar PV projects that total 600 MW.)

Construction of the Shams 1 project began back in the third quarter of 2010, at a total cost of approximately $600 million dollars.

Al Ali continues: ?Once completed, Shams 1 will be one of the largest concentrated solar power [CSP] plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 square kilometres with a capacity of approximately 100 MW.? (You can see here that even Al Ali has switched from calling it the ?largest? CSP plant to “one of the largest” CSP plants.)

Shams 1 is a joint venture that is 60% owned by Masdar, 20% by Total, and 20% by Abengoa.

The project was developed under a contract that ensures ownership and continued operation for 25 years. “Companies that took part in the development of the project offered unique technology to operate the system,” he said.

Once finished, it will consist of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors, 192 solar collector assembly loops with 8 solar collector assemblies per loop, 768 solar collector assembly units, and 27,648 absorber pipes.

“It uses the CSP technology and parabola shapes means that solar thermal electricity is generated by focusing sunlight, concentrated by mirrors, reflects to heat a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam to drive a steam turbine,” Al Ali said.

“As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute to Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7 per cent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020.”

Source: Gulf News
Image Credit: CSP



2012 CleanTech Open Winners

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 02:30 AM PST

Here are some of the 2012 CleanTech Open winners courtesy sister site Ecopreneurist. You can read about more on the CleanTech Open website:


CleanTech Open Winners 2012 Highlights (via Ecopreneurist)

On November 8th and 9th, the Cleantech Open 2012 Global Forum was held in San Jose, CA.  In this “Golden Globes” of Cleantech, the latest in national and international entrepreneurs, members of the investment community, corporate partners, the cleantech community, and like-minded business leaders?




Geothermal Heat Pumps: How They Work & How To Get One

Posted: 25 Nov 2012 02:00 AM PST

This is a good guest post one of our regular readers passed along to me. Good explanation of how geothermal heat pumps work (briefly) and how to go about getting one. Full repost below:


(NAPSI)”Homeowners who are planning to replace a worn-out, inefficient heating and cooling system may want to consider installing a new geothermal system. According to the experts at WaterFurnace, most geothermal units are easy to install, especially when they are replacing another forced-air system. And in many cases, the monthly savings that an energy-efficient geothermal system offers will be greater than any payments associated with the installation of the new system.

During the heating cycle, a geothermal heat pump uses a series of pipes (an earth loop) buried in the ground to extract heat from the ground. As the system pulls heat from the loop, it distributes it as warm air through the home using a conventional duct system. The same heat energy can also be used for a radiant floor system or domestic hot water heating. In the cooling mode, the heating process is reversed?heat is extracted from the air in the home and either moved back into the earth loop or used to preheat the water in a hot water tank.

Installation of a geothermal system begins with a visit from your local geothermal dealer. The dealer will measure your house, calculate your heating and cooling requirements and examine your property to determine the best loop system for your location. If you own a home that does not have an existing duct system, your geothermal dealer can easily retrofit your home to include one.

Geothermal systems can also be installed in areas that are unsuitable for fossil fuel furnaces, because there is no combustion and therefore no need to vent exhaust gases. These systems do particularly well when replacing propane or fuel oil systems. And because a geothermal system uses no fossil fuel and emits no greenhouse gases, homeowners can reduce their carbon footprints, add comfort, and improve indoor air quality with less noise.

Lower utility bills increase the list of benefits that a geothermal system offers the homeowner. In fact, a geothermal system delivers an astounding four units of energy for every one unit of electrical energy used. That translates to a 400 percent efficiency rating and savings of up to 70 percent for heating, cooling and hot water costs. Additionally, geothermal systems require less maintenance than conventional heating and cooling systems.

Homeowners who install a geothermal system prior to Dec. 31, 2016 can take advantage of a federal renewable energy tax credit that offers a tax incentive of 30 percent of the installed cost of the system. The credit can be used along with utility rebates and state tax incentives, where available, to make geothermal systems more affordable than ever.

To find a geothermal system that fits your needs, visit www.waterfurnace.com or talk to a WaterFurnace expert at (800) GEO-SAVE.